Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Walk of Honor

I went with my cousin and his two kids to Al Ka2ed Ibrahim mosque for the Friday prayers, then we joined the protest which moved from there, along the Port Said street towards the headquarters of the military northern command in Sidi Gaber to protest against the fact that more than five months since Mubarak's fall, not one high ranking official has been punished for Killing and injuring thousands of Egyptians since the eruption of the revolution on January 25th.

George Ishak lead the first chants, then the youth, mainly from 6th April movement took over for the rest of the way. We were around two thousand protestors, a low number compared to the numbers of previous Fridays. Seems that the extreme heat and humidity, and the boycott by the Islamists (not sure what this title actually means when most women and girls in the protest were vailed) were the mean reason for the low turnout.

The couple of times, I questioned the wisdom of my decision to join the protest on such a hot day, it was enough to look around to see my fellow Egyptians, old and young, healthy and frail, women and men, strong and handicapped struggling with their with crutches, it was enough to look at them all to forget about anything except our one and only beloved Egypt. Moreover, cold water was never in shortage. People in the balconies and windows of building along Port Said street are used to similar demos and were well prepared. Also, whenever protestors went into stores to buy bottles of cold water, they always bought extra ones and gave them out to whoever needed a refreshing sip.

A couple walked with the picture of their martyr son hanging from string around their necks. Mohamed Ramadan was 14 years old! No words could express how I felt towards them. As a mother, I can't even begin to imagine what they are going through, and not only for losing a son but also for knowing that his killer is free. All I could offer was a pat on the shoulder and a promise that their son's life will not be lost in vain. Two young girls were holding a banner of the martyred brother Ahmed Adel Ahmed. Again a pat and a promise were all I could offer for now.

When the protest stopped at the location where Khaled Said was killed, the car that carried the loud speakers played the beautiful song "ya Bladi ya Bladi, Ana ba7ebak ya Bladi", the tears that chocked my throat finally uncontrollably spilled from my eyes. I never knew I loved Egypt -actually, I prefer to call my beloved country MASR - and all it's children that much.

Credits: Second picture is by my cousin Mohamed Hanno.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mornings in Jenin by Susan AbulHawa

Whether you’re already a strong supporter of the Palestinian issue, a distant sympathizer, a neutral by-stander who doesn’t care much for either sides, or even if you’re a hard core Zionist, I dare you to read this book

Susan Abulhawa has skillfully weaved a tapestry of heritage, love, pain, injustice, hope, despair, violence, tenderness, cruelty, and sacrifice that will force you to re-examine all your comfort-zone ideas and beliefs.

We all know the recent history of the region, and most of us might not need or want to be reminded of it or of the major events that lead to and followed the creation of Israel, yet Abulhawa, ever so softly & skillfully, retells this history from an extremely humane perspective.

Through the lives of four generations of the AbulHeja family, we see how a typical farming family, defined by the abundance of love and the deep connection to the land, is suddenly and literally uprooted from the land and lifestyle it has know for forty generations, into a brutal and arid life of displacement and refugee camps.

And while it’s true that the men in subsequent generations of AbulHeja are the ones who disappear or are killed because they the main target of the Zionist military might, or because they are expected to carry arms in defense of the women, children and the elderly, yet the real suffering is experienced by the women who are repeatedly left alone to care for themselves and their children under the most brutal of conditions.

I must warn you though; this book will not only make you cry it will make you itsha7tef (an Egyptian word meaning not being able to stop crying for six months).